By Katie Moosbrugger
Finding child care in the summer months can be a daunting – and sometimes an expensive – task. Some mothers have found it easiest to break up the summer into weeks and use different child care each week to keep things exciting. (But keep in mind that you may need to pay a registration fee for each option.) Others like to choose one option for the entire summer.
There really is no easy answer or formula, however, sometimes the best ideas come from thinking out of the box. Many of the suggestions we share today come from resources we already have on our site. Maybe you did not realize we had such lists, or maybe you never thought to consider some of our directories for ideas! In addition, I included creative ways for saving your sanity and your budgets – ideas that have worked well other moms employed during the summer months.
The work of many is always better than the work of just one, so we would love for you to comment at the end of this blog with any additional ideas.
Day Cares, Nannies, In-Home Services & Hourly Drop Ins
These options can be the easiest and quickest to arrange, but they can also be the most expensive option (depending on where you choose and for how many hours). TMoM has an entire directory dedicated not only to year-round day care facilities, but also nanny and in-home services, and hourly drop-ins. The hourly drop-in facilities do have a time limit with their services, so this type of arrangement is best for those with flexible jobs. On the other hand, many year-round day care centers have long waiting lists, so keep that in mind if you are just now starting your search. Click HERE to visit that directory.
Did you know many summer day camps in our area offer extended hours – or full time options – for campers? Not all camps readily promote this option, and sometimes you just need to ask. On the TMoM Summer Camp Directory (click HERE), however, we included Full Time Options as a note beside each camp that has confirmed this available service. These extended hours allow you to drop your camper offer early for check in and/or pick up your camper after camp hours.
Before/After School Options
Before/After School programs understand the unique scheduling challenges for working moms, and many offer full day summer camps and summer care for this very reason. If you are familiar with a certain program from the school year, you should check to see if they offer summer programs as well. Many of the programs listed HERE on our Before & After School Programs directory are also cross listed on our Summer Camp directory with Full Time Option availability.
Program & Class Registration
This idea works mostly for those who have flexible jobs, but if you cannot find a camp that suits your child, why not sign them up for sports or arts classes this summer? We have two comprehensive directories that lists tons of classes and programs in the arts (dance, theatre, music, creative arts, etc) as well as sports. Click HERE to visit our directory of Arts & Enrichment programs, and click HERE to see our list of Sports Programs in the Triad. NOTE: You will need to check to be sure that certain businesses and organizations offers classes or programs (other than camps) in the summer. Not all do, but this could be a great option if they do.
If hiring a nanny is beyond your budget, consider employing a babysitter on “retainer.” I have friends who hired a neighborhood teenager on retainer for the same evening every month so they could enjoy a night out. If there were unable to go out that night, they still paid her “retainer” fee because they wanted to ensure she stayed available that same night every month. The same idea can be applied to a sitter on retainer for certain day(s) of the work week.
Some of the best places to find babysitters are more obvious than you realize! Relatives, friend referrals and responsible neighborhood kids (especially those home from college and who are looking for work) are always good bets. Or maybe your favorite preschool teacher or preschool assistant might be up for a babysitting gig over the summer! If you and your child are active in playgroups, consider asking the other moms in that group if they would do a sitter swap with you. Each mom could host kids at her house one day while the other moms use that time to work or run errands. Or swapping play dates with one other mom could work too. Ask a parent of one of your child’s friends if they would consider a play date swap for the same reasons. Finally, don’t rule out hiring younger kids (elementary school age) to work as “mother’s helpers” at your home while you are there too. You might not get as much work done as you hoped, but you are training a future babysitter and paying a whole lot less for a younger sitter!
If the above ideas are not options for you, you can also search for a sitter on national sitter web sites such as these:
Ways to Save on Summer Care
On top of all these ideas, there are ways you can look for savings – even with some of the most expensive options. Below are a few ideas you might want to consider.
~ Look for discounts and assistance. If you are using a day care facility, ask about half-day schedules and discounts for enrolling more than one child. Your employer might also offer financial assistance. Additionally, non-profit child care centers may have lower cost options.
~ Try the pay-what-you-can idea. One TMoM reader told us that her husband is a teacher, so they are lucky they don’t have to find childcare for the summer. However, her husband does a “pay what you can” childcare service for other families over long breaks from school. It not only helps these families stay on a budget, but her husband also makes a little extra income over the long breaks.
~ Consider nanny and sitter sharing. Some of the larger nanny services allows families to split the cost of a nanny with other families nearby by sharing hours and days. Similarly, the same concept could be offered to babysitters.
~ Flex your work schedules. This is not an option for everyone, but if you are able to rearrange your work schedule to accommodate your children’s schedule, that might work. For instance, if you work at home, consider getting up before the kids – or stay up after they go to bed – to get in some quiet time on your computer. Or, another option might be to coordinate opposite work schedules with your partner. For instance, one of you starts earlier (maybe a 6 am to 2 pm shift), while the other works later in the day (12 pm to 8 pm). That could help cut down the hours that you need child care.
What other ideas and options have worked for you?
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